With so many things to worry about in the current situation, financial uncertainty just adds to the list. There are plenty of things you can try to save some cash while you’re stuck at home though, and this article sets out some easy tips to help you feel a bit more in control when it comes to your finances.
Create a Budget
It can feel scary to look at your bank balance and bills, but it will actually help you to feel better if you’ve got a proper handle on your expected incomings and outgoings.
Make a list of all your essential bills including food, housing and utilities such as electricity and water and think about your likely income.
There are lots of good budgeting tools online. Take a look at Martin Lewis’s guide to budgeting HERE.
Find Out If You Can Get Government Help
If you’ve lost your income due to coronavirus, find out if you can claim financial help from the Government. If you are self employed, you may find more information HERE. If you are employed, find out if you can retain your job using a “furlough” scheme HERE.
Check Through Your Direct Debits & Standing Orders
If you are at home during this time, you have the perfect opportunity to take a good look at all your direct debits and standing orders. Are you still paying for that gym membership you never use, an app that you deleted long ago or a charitable subscription you can no longer afford? Cancel or suspend all those you no longer want or need.
Control Your Fuel and Energy Bills
With a constantly full household, your energy bills are likely to rise, but there are quite a few steps you can take to keep the cost to your pocket & environment to a minimum:
- Try turning your thermostat down by just one degree. Experts say this simple action can save £75 – £80 a year.
- Get cosy in isolation! Pull on a fleece, slippers and socks and add an extra blanket to the bed to feel cosy rather than turning up the heating.
- Keep moving – you always feel colder when sat in front of a screen. Try some home exercises or get Spring cleaning!
- Make sure you unplug any appliances that aren’t in use as these can still use energy.
- Kettle usage has shot up while we’re all at home and, although this saves our pockets from using our local cafes, kettles are terribly inefficient. Ensure that you only put as much water as you need into the kettle before you turn it on.
- Use the washing line rather than the tumble dryer whilst the weather is so nice. It’s a great way to get out of the house for a breath of fresh air as well as saving on energy costs.
- There are lots of great deals available from energy companies at the moment, so take the chance to hunt down the best tariff you can find. There are plenty of comparison sites out there. Find out more about energy switching advice HERE.
Find Out About Refunds
If you had any concert tickets, travel passes or holidays booked, get checking those terms and conditions! You may be eligible for a partial or full refund, or the chance to change your booking to a later date without additional fees.
Plan Your Meals
Finding fresh, healthy food to feed the family is a major cost, and concern, at the moment, but it’s also one of the areas where if you make good choices you can save money.
Firstly, make sure that you use up every last bit of your food. Think of our elders and how they leave nothing to waste:
Always check use by dates – If you have room in your freezer then utilise this as much as possible
Make a meal plan for the week, buy only what is on the list and stick to your plan
Find new recipes or mix and match to use up the ingredients you have available
Cook meals in bulk and freeze what you don’t need now.
Go through your store cupboards, fridge and freezer and take an inventory – can what is there be used to make meals? Rearrange it to make space for freezing your batch cooking and make sure you know what supplies you have available.
If you eat meat, it’s often better value to buy a big joint or whole chicken, then make several different meals from it. So, for example, you could have a roast dinner, followed by a risotto and a curry out of one chicken. Other tips include:
- Bake your own bread and make your own pasta. There are plenty of recipes online and it’s often easier than you’d think! Sourdough is easy to make once you have a starter and making it at home can save lots of money!
- Veggie meals are cheap and filling. Consider mixed bean chillis and lentil bolognese. There are plenty of others HERE.
- Add beans, lentils or pearl barley and lots of veg to casseroles and stews to bulk them out and cut down on the amount expensive meat needed.
- Make your own cakes, biscuits and other snacks. Try out some Mary Berry recipes HERE.
- Consider supermarket essential brands or “wonky” vegetables which are often cheaper and taste just as good.
- Consider growing your own fruit and vegetables if you have the space in your garden.
Try Out Free Online Resources
Lots of celebrities and organisations are offering free online information and entertainment to help us use our time wisely whilst at home. Check out fitness workouts on YouTube, free audio books, online streaming of theatre productions from The National Theatre and many more.
Save Your Pennies
Let’s face it, there’s not a huge amount we can spend money on at the moment, so if you’ve got any left over, why not put the money you would have spent into a savings account – or even a jar – and look forward to a treat when the lockdown is over. There are even online saving tools which automatically save for you, such as Plum.
Keep Up To Date With Financial News
Make sure you only take financial advice from reputable online gurus and websites. Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert site is full of the latest tips and advice covering all aspects of financial planning and is updated regularly during this current crisis.